(Beyond Pesticides, December 19, 2019) Identifying ongoing risk to endangered species, the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced an intent to sueÂ California pesticide regulators to cancel the registration of four rodenticides in California. The suit seeks to expand the prohibition of use by the general consumer to include agricultural users and licensed pest-control operators. The group calls for protection of the endangered San Joaquin kit foxes, California condors, and 11 other endangered species from these rat poisons.
Rodenticides are grouped into three categories: first-generation anticoagulants, second-generation anticoagulants, and non-anticoagulants. Both first- and second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides interfere with blood clotting in mammals and cause death from hemorrhage. Animals can be poisoned by eating the bait directly, or by consuming a poisoned animal (secondary poisoning). Secondary poisoning poses the greatest risk to wildlife. Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), such as brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone and difenacoum, are more likely to cause secondary poisonings because they persist in body tissue for extended periods of time. These four poisons are the focus of this lawsuit.
In 2014, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) banned the use of SGARs for public consumers. Advocates were motivated by the need to protect children and wildlife from these dangerous chemicals. A 2011 Annual Report of the American Association on Poison Control Centersâ€™ National Poison Data System reported a total of 12,886 rodenticide exposures in the U.S., with nearly 80% of those cases involving children aged five or younger. The death of a charismatic mountain lion, P-22, from exposure to anticoagulant pesticides drew widespread attention and motivated public action. However, simply banning private use of these toxic chemicals does not adequately protect wildlife.
In 2018, CDPR analyzed 11 wildlife studies and found evidence of second-generation anticoagulants in 88% bobcats and 90% of mountain lions that were tested.Â The California Department of Fish and Wildlife found SGARs in 92% of the 68 tested dead mountain lions. This March, the National Park Service found the remains of P-47, a 150-pound mountain lion, after his collar sent a â€śmortality signal.â€ť The necropsy discovered internal hemorrhaging in the lionâ€™s head and lungs, and lab results showed a cocktail of six different anticoagulant compounds from rat poisons.
â€śThere was no indication that he was unwell,â€ť National Park Service spokeswoman Kate Kuykendall said of P-47. â€śAnd visibly he looked fine in the photos we were getting. Unless the animal develops mange, thereâ€™s really no way to know that a mountain lion is being poisoned until itâ€™s too late.â€ť
Advocates put their efforts behind a state bill, AB 1788, that would have banned SGARs. It was killed for the year in August when the billâ€™s author Rep. Bloom pulled the bill from the Senate Appropriations Committee, largely due to vigilant lobbying by pest control groups.
The lawsuit seeks to require CDPR to enforce the Endangered Species Act by and remove these dangerous pesticides out of circulation in the state of California. CBD put forth in its 60-day notice the claim that ESA-listed species are frequently poisoned and killed by SGARs, citing data from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Parks and Recreation, and independent scientific research. Â
Jonathan Evans, legal director of the Centerâ€™s environmental health program, stated, â€śWe must put an end to the slow, painful deaths of wildlife from these reckless super-toxic poisons. With safer alternatives on the market today, itâ€™s time for California to prohibit these dangerous poisons.â€ť
For more information on managing rodent problems without toxic, â€śsuper-predatorâ€ť rodenticides, seeÂ Beyond Pesticides ManageSafe webpage. And to promote on-farm reduction of anti-coagulant rodenticides, supportÂ organic agriculture,Â which doesnâ€™t allow this type of rodent poison and requires any measure addressing rodent pests be guided by a pre-determined organic systems plan.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.
Source: Center for Biological Diversity